ALERT: Save Russia's Lake Baikal: World's Largest Body of Freshwater Threatened
UPDATE: This alert was successful! Russia has announced Lake Baikal will be spared oil pipeline threat.
TAKE ACTION: Let Russian government know oil and water do not mix
A controversial Russian crude oil pipeline from eastern Siberia to the Pacific coast threatens the world's largest freshwater lake. The pipeline may pass within less than one kilometer of Lake Baikal -- a UNESCO protected World Heritage site and home to 20 percent of the world's fresh water. Lake Baikal, called the "Jewel of Siberia", is the world's deepest and oldest lake renowned for its water purity and home to tremendous amounts of endemic species including a rare fresh water seal. It is feared that an earthquake, forest fire or flood around Lake Baikal could rupture the pipeline, sending 4,000 tons of crude oil into the world's largest freshwater body in just 20 minutes.
Experts, including specialists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, have said the oil pipeline should run as far as possible from the coast of Baikal. Scientists who conducted the state assessment of the plan found that in the event of an earthquake there is a high likelihood that water quality would be severely diminished and permanent damage to the unique wildlife would occur, and thus recommended its construction near Baikal be stopped. There has been strong local opposition to the project for years, including recent protests by Russian environmentalists.
Project plans are continually changing, with important questions including whether the pipeline route will fall within the Baikal water catchment still unresolved. Please send an email supporting local campaigns to ensure the final pipeline route steers well clear of Lake Baikal and its watershed, and to promote sustainable development in the Baikal region.